Flaunt Magazine – “New mothers are a silent tribe of warriors,” actress Jenna Coleman tells me, just a few minutes after her arrival for our meeting in London’s bohemian Soho neighborhood. She’s effortlessly pretty—deep brown eyes, a winning smile, chestnut hair and striking brows. The words, she explains, are not hers but those of a close friend: a new mother she spoke to ahead of filming her latest drama, The Cry. Whilst Coleman, a youthful 32-years-old, is not a mother herself, she already knows a thing or two about motherhood: playing the titular queen in television series Victoria, she’s already given birth on screen not one, but seven times. “Seven babies, nine altogether,” Coleman laughs. “Two more to go yet!”
Her role as new mother Joanna in The Cry is one of Coleman’s most controversial to date. A psychological thriller based on the novel by Australian author Helen Fitzgerald, the drama is already winning praise for its unflinching portrayal of motherhood. In the early episodes of the program, Coleman’s character struggles to adapt to the manifold challenges that motherhood brings. “She’s lost her identity,” Coleman says of Joanna, a new mum whose ideas of motherhood prove at odds with the reality. More truth is needed, Coleman says, about portrayals of mothers—and women—on our screens.
“There’s so much pressure on it being the most beautiful, precious, and special time of your life. If you don’t treasure every minute of it, then somehow you’re a failure. The reality is wildly different,” Coleman says, matter-of-factly. The two characters Coleman plays—Queen Victoria and new mum Joanna—couldn’t be further apart. Yet playing each emphasized to Coleman the differences in the way modern society treats new mothers compared to the past. “In the Victorian era if you had a baby, you had to go into confinement for a month to help your body to recover, and people helped you with the transition into motherhood. Now, you can literally be out of the hospital in six hours and you’re left to it. In our society, perhaps we need to be more open to how much of a challenge it can be…we need greater empathy.”
Fans of Coleman jumped to conclusions recently when a picture of the star pushing a pram was posted on social media. When I mention the story, Coleman turns scarlet with embarrassment. “I’m not insane, I promise… I was practicing,” she tells me, staring down at her white sneakers. Coleman hadn’t given birth—to help immerse herself in character, she took a pram out as she went shopping. The preparation didn’t end there either: she visited a midwife at a hospital, spent extensive time with children on set, and emailed all of her friends with children in the hope of garnering as many experiences as she could.
“Each of their experiences was so completely different,” Coleman says, explaining how nervous she was before filming began. “There’s this primal bond between a mother and a child. I emailed my friends and was like, ‘I’ve taken on this part and I really feel like I’m not…’” her voice trails off. “In the prep I definitely felt a growing pressure. The fact that I’d taken on a mountain hit home.” While her performance has been widely praised for its realism, Coleman tells me she had fears about authenticity, not being a mother herself. She reels off the questions she asked her friends: “What does it feel like? What are your hormones doing? What does the lack of sleep do to you? What’s the day-to-day like?”
We’re sitting alongside each other on a comfy sofa-seat inside a private members club in Soho on a sunny autumn afternoon. Dressed in a smart pinstriped dress and sneakers, Coleman often traverses the formal and the informal. Her answers are thoughtful and considered, and she’s exceedingly modest: when I mention how she is often described as “driven,” she angles her head away, turns scarlet once more and winces. “It feels like there’s something ruthless about it,” Coleman says of the term “driven”—her demeanor demonstrating that she’s anything but. “I used to balk at it.”
After we talk about it at length, Coleman concludes that the reason she is so uncomfortable with the term comes down to portrayals of women in the media. Just as her latest character Joanna is vilified by the media for being a “bad mother,” women who seem ambitious or career-driven still attract similar criticisms. “I don’t think being described as driven is anything that you should be ashamed of—that you love your job and want to keep doing it, that you really value it and want to explore it… yet for some reason, I always felt like being described as ‘driven’ or ‘determined’ was a dirty word.”
“I think I just perhaps need to own that, and not actually see it as a bad thing and be proud of the fact that I’m passionate about my job and that’s okay.” She looks down at the floor again, as if she only half believes it. “I shan’t apologize anymore,” she tells me, mimicking the regal voice of Queen Victoria. “I love how I’ve just said that in the most polite way possible…I need to stop apologizing.”
Part of the apologizing may come down – at least in part – to her working class background and education. Growing up in Blackpool, a seaside town in the north of England, Coleman began her first professional acting role aged just 18, in the long-running British soap opera Emmerdale. It was an inspirational drama teacher, Mr. Snell, who encouraged her to pursue acting, giving her practical advice and support through a self-funded theatre company run via her school. “Without him, I wouldn’t have known where to begin. We operated as a semi-professional theatre company in between school and holidays. We’d do all the props and set up ourselves…and travelled just anywhere it would take us; the shows would eventually pay for themselves. That kind of experience was invaluable. I’ve definitely not taken the traditional route, that’s for sure.”
Since then, she’s worked continuously in a number of increasingly high-profile roles, including as Doctor Who’s assistant on the long-running cult sci-fi television show and Lydia in the Pride and Prejudice spin-off Death Comes to Pemberley. But despite her rapid ascent, Coleman admits she still struggles with feeling unqualified, which she pins on her unorthodox path to acting. “I definitely feel a hole from having not been to drama school,” she tells me. “I still don’t feel qualified in any sense.” This is remarkable for an actress who is regularly acclaimed for her work.
Next year, for the first time since being a member of Mr. Snell’s theatre company, Coleman is heading back to theatre for a leading role in Arthur Miller’s All My Sons, alongside Sally Field and Bill Pullman, in London’s West End. “It definitely doesn’t feel like a muscle I’ve flexed in a while,” Coleman says when I ask about her preparation and rehearsals. They’ll begin next year, after a rest and some time to stand still. “It’s an unknown, and I’ve got the fear,” Coleman says about the role. “But it’s a good fear,” she quantifies, laughing.
Coleman draws parallels between her role in The Cry and All My Sons, speaking about the depth and nuance of both roles. “There’s so much to play with under the veneer again…it’s like you’re playing chess but you’re playing chess with one of the most emotionally traumatic and scarring experiences that someone can go through,” she says of The Cry, after a dark secret is revealed mid-series. Is investing so much in characters with such emotional weight exhausting? Yes, she says, but she knows how to switch off. “Once you get into a filming schedule it takes over and you go home, you switch the lights off and you go to sleep… because the role was such an emotional marathon, I somehow trained myself to be light in between takes. Otherwise it would be like walking through mud all the time.”
Coleman tells me, through a deep sigh, that characters like this don’t come around very often. “It’s been really eye opening. I’ve realized there are not many places I can say I’ve seen it on television before,” she says of struggling mum Joanna. Scripts depicting age-old stereotypes of women are still more likely to land on her desk.
“I think there’s definitely a movement of people wanting to see everyday society reflected in film and television, and I definitely think there’s need for such a movement. But for every decent script that I’ve read, I’m still sent ten scripts that are very much ‘the girlfriend’ or ‘girl next door’ roles that revert to type. This is why The Cry felt really exciting. When you read a script and there’s so much going on between the lines, it’s invigorating.”
As a young actor auditioning for roles, Coleman made dozens of audition tapes, shifting between hundreds of identities, often feeling in a perpetual transient state. The idea of doing more film work soon is attractive to her, not least because it allows stability. “There’s something about a film where you can research it and immerse yourself for longer. There’s one director, one piece, one telling of a story. I think there’s something nice about that.”
We walk downstairs to the streets of Soho. Coleman dons a checked winter mac, stepping out into the strange autumnal sunshine. She tells me she is looking forward to standing still for a time and, crucially, not giving birth on-screen for a few months until Victoria has her next two. “No more babies. I’ll babysit my friends’ children for a little while, but then happily give the child back,” she beams, before walking off to her next audition.
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Jenna Coleman has lifted the lid on the “complex narrative” of BBC psychological thriller The Cry. The former Doctor Who star also revealed, in an interview with Deadline, that she’s looking forward to not “wearing a maternity bra” in her next role as she prepares to star alongside Sally Field in a stage version of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons.
In The Cry, which just finished its run on BBC One, where it was the British public broadcaster’s second best new drama this year, Coleman plays Joanna, a mother who faces the glare of public scrutiny after a deeply personal trauma involving her young child.
The four-part series, which is produced by Synchronicity Films, is told in a non-linear fashion, jumping from her and her husband Alistair, played by Top of the Lake: China Girl star Ewen Leslie being in Australia, to flashbacks about their initial romance.
She told Deadline, “For everybody across the production from costume to continuity, it’s the most complex narrative because you have to always keep the linear version in your head as well as the non-linear and the psychological thriller aspects. So, you have to play the truth of what you know as the story but how and what you reveal and how you play the truth of that emotion has to be perceived in numerous eventualities of the story and we didn’t film it in order either.”
It is based on Helen FitzGerald’s book. “The ending is on page one of the book so we’re telling people to buy the book but to read it after,” she added.
Synchronicity Films’ Founder and Creative Director Claire Mundell, who exec produced the series, said the show was developed over four years with Jacquelin Perske adapting. “We’ve taken the essence of the book and the ending and there’s a few surprises in there. We spent a lot of time talking about what is the order of this story because we need to take the audience on a journey; we need to get to know these characters, understand them and find out how they came together but then it’s a thriller and it’s all about what you reveal and when,” she added.
Victoria star Coleman said she initially read the scripts on a plane, fitting given that some of the key initial scenes in the show feature on an airplane, and was drawn to the complicated characters. “So much of episode one is about being a new mother in such an unflinchingly honest way but the story then takes on such a different psychological element. I also feel each episode is its own thing; the disintegration of Joanna’s psychology and then being in the camera lens of the media. It feels really dense. Even with the post-natal depression at the beginning, we then go into traumatic stress and as it unravels you understand more and more, but to have someone at the edge of such emotion and unimaginable circumstances but has to suppress it means that it feels like every scene is at breaking point.”
Coleman, who is represented by UTA and Troika, admitted that she initially felt miscast in the role as she didn’t have children herself. “Fundamentally, everything for Joanna is the connection between her and her child, even when the child goes missing, everything is about the umbilical cord and the pressure I put on myself to be really access the truth of that and that’s not something [I’ve got].”
The show is set to launch on Sundance Now in the U.S. later this year. “We’re really excited about the U.S launch and I think Sundance is the right home, particularly because of the way the show is directed by Glendyn Ivin, who is a film director, who has a very filmic sensibility and it looks like top notch home.”
Up next for Coleman is Arthur Miller’s All My Sons alongside Sally Field, Bill Pullman and Colin Morgan next April. The adaptation is being directed by Jeremy Herrin. “I’m excited; it’s far enough away not to feel the fear. I’ve been looking for a while for the right [stage] part and it’s such an ensemble thing. It’s playing within veneer; it’s all coded. It’s something that is presented with so much simmering underneath and that will be really interesting to explore.”
Coleman, who has been regularly pregnant on ITV period drama Victoria, admitted that she’s looking forward to not playing a mother in her next small screen role. “I’d love to not wear a maternity bra in my next role; I’ve run out of labor noises,” she said. “After Doctor Who, the idea of doing something sci-fi [didn’t appeal] and then I wanted to do The Cry after Victoria because it was so so different. I think when the scripts come and where they catch you in your life and what you’ve been doing. It feels like an incredibly rich time in TV to try and can wait out for those good roles.”
Allow me to introduce the “impossible girl”. She’s visited hundreds of galaxies with a Time Lord and ruled the British Empire, dealt with dukes and Daleks (I’ll leave you to decide which are worse), but right now the most impossible thing she’s facing is trying to find somewhere to chat to me on the phone without cracking up the people around her. “Sorry!” She laughs when we finally connect. “You just caught me in the car with my driver and I knew he’d just giggle at everything I’m saying!”
Of course, the girl in question is Jenna Coleman, who obtained the tagline from her role as the Eleventh Doctor’s companion in the beloved BBC series Doctor Who. Accompanying both Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi, Jenna rose to fame as Clara Oswald, the witty school teacher with the ability to charm alien life forms in numerous universes.
The chance to escape to different worlds has always appealed to Jenna and exploring alternate realities is what first made her want to get into acting. “I remember reading Enid Blyton and loads of books and their worlds becoming very vivid in my head,” she recalls. “I just remember being really, really young and for some reason it always just felt very simple. Acting was always what I wanted to do, it was more the ‘how’ that was always the more complicated thing.”
Currently heading into their third series, Jenna’s brief break from resuming Victoria filming wasn’t as relaxing as one might expect. Heading to Australia in February, instead of having some well-deserved chill time on the sunny beaches, she got straight into her most challenging role yet.
Starring in the BBC’s upcoming psychological thriller The Cry, Jenna plays the lead role of Joanna, a young mother who travels to Australia with her newborn son and slightly shitty husband amidst a custody battle over her husband’s daughter from a previous marriage. Once they’ve landed, all seems to be going okay when suddenly her life is thrown into disarray after her son disappears. Based on the Helen Fitzgerald novel of the same name, if you’ve watched the trailer, you’ll know that it’s destined to be one of those shows that’ll have you glued to your television screen, barely breathing, with twists and turns that will leave you speechless.
Shooting between Oz and Glasgow, it’s set to come out on September 30th, filling that inevitable Bodyguard-shaped hole within our lives. Quite a difficult filming process, the show runs on two different timelines − one taking place when the baby goes missing and the other in the present day at a trial, although “a trial for what?” is a question I’m yet to learn the answer to. “We kept calling it ‘going down the vortex’ because you’re shooting all these timelines and obviously it’s a psychological thriller so there are certain aspects of what you can give away and when.” Jenna explains. “There’s a certain version which kind of keeps everyone at arm’s length a little bit, so you’re never giving too much away at once.” She pauses. “This will all make sense once you’ve seen it, but, oh my god, in terms of playing it, it was the most narratively complicated job I’ve ever done!”
Not only were the timelines hard to grasp at first, but Jenna originally found her role quite struggling too. “I had real issues with the idea of playing a mother with issues. That would be fundamentally something that I maybe wouldn’t be able to do justice because I’m not a mother,” she discloses. “It was hugely challenging. But to be honest, a lot of my friends have got new babies and a couple of them sent me the most incredible emails. I spoke with them and got really amazing, and searingly honest, details about the realities of being a new mum. It’s the most beautiful thing in the world, but just because it’s so beautiful it doesn’t mean it doesn’t come without questions about your own identity and loneliness. I think it was a really interesting way to explore post-natal depression in a way that I don’t feel I have ever really seen very much on the screen.”
Her portrayal of a struggling mother is, at many times, difficult to watch. In the first episode, she’s on the 24-hour-long flight to Australia, screaming baby in arms, husband fast asleep, getting disapproving looks from other passengers as she frantically tries to settle her son. It’s a moment that I’m sure many have been a part of, I know that I’ve given my fair share of eye rolls to crying children on flights before, and it’s this aspect that The Cry wants to tap into. “It has a lot of questions,” Jenna muses. “It questions our society about the pressures on new mums. But also the pressure of the media, and how media can spin a version of the truth.”
The latter is in response to the “whodunnit” aspect of the show, the twist in the first episode which leads you to believe that maybe the baby hasn’t only gone missing. “I guess it’s the funny thing of going through one of the most extreme emotional experiences of your life at the same time as being under this media scrutiny,” Jenna details. “Those two things coinciding and happening at once is really quite an interesting angle to look at psychologically. And an interesting story to tell.”
“Who do you think did it?” She asks, cueing me to launch into the various theories that are spinning around in my mind. Is it too obvious to be the ex-wife? Or how about the struggling young mum? Maybe it’s the husband’s daughter who is secretly jealous of her dad moving on and creating a new life? Maybe it’s someone else altogether? “That’s what I felt like reading it!” She laughs. “I felt like I didn’t quite know what was going on. It was leading me in different directions and I just kept turning the page!”
What’s not up for debate though, is the fact that Jenna is breathtaking in the show and her portrayal is sure to get her even more critical acclaim. For the “impossible girl”, it really seems like she can do anything.
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The first season of the eight-part drama series Victoria (which has already been picked up for a second season), airing on Masterpiece on PBS, follows the young Queen Victoria (Jenna Coleman) from her accession to the throne as a very young and vulnerable 18-year-old, through her education in politics, courtship and marriage. It is the story of a monarch who was raised to be the pawn of her powerful elders, but who wasted no time in voicing her own opinion and taking charge in her own way, as she learned what it meant to be the most powerful woman in the world.
During this 1-on-1 interview with Collider, actress Jenna Coleman (Doctor Who) talked about her first time playing someone real, what she did to prepare for the role, what she loves most about Queen Victoria, understanding what it must have been like to be in a position like this, the huge journey she gets to take with the role, and what having been a part of the much beloved Doctor Who means to her, personally and professionally.
Collider: What’s it been like to take on Queen Victoria?
JENNA COLEMAN: I’ve never played anybody real before. It’s always been fiction that you can research through a book or whatever has been adapted, but nothing that’s really happened. There’s so much to access. It’s history and it’s interesting reading from biography to biography because the voices are very different and it can be so subjective. I just read a range. (Show Creator) Daisy [Goodwin ] gave me a bit list of stuff to read, to try to get an idea of her character.
Can you imagine what it must have been like to be in a position like this while being so young? That must have been so crazy!
COLEMAN: Daisy was having a conversation with her daughter and turned around and looked at her and thought, “Wow, could you imagine if you became the most powerful woman in the room tomorrow? You’re a teenager!” The thing about Victoria is that she was extremely obstinate and stubborn, by all accounts. Lord Melbourne said, “The Queen only tends to think forwards. Once she’s made up her mind, there is no unearthly power that will make her go ‘round.” It’s that stubbornness and that will that made her who she was. Otherwise, being an 18-year-old in that position, I can’t begin to imagine. She’d never really spent any time by herself or spent a night in a room by herself or had been in a room alone with a man before, and she was becoming the most powerful woman in the world and had to navigate Parliament. When you put it into context, it is an extraordinary story.
Do you think the fact that she didn’t seem to know or care about how she was supposed to behave is what helped people like her?
COLEMAN: Yeah, and it’s one of the things I love most about her. None of the way she’s supposed to behave and the uniform of her life has squashed her lust for life, regardless of growing up in the Kensington system. I find that really amazing about her. Also, she’s so unapologetically herself. She’s flawed, in that way, but I think it’s what makes her really human. It’s really interesting to play because she’s so inconsistent. She’s so many things. She can be quite childish and frivolous, at times, and emotional, but other times, she’s like the wisest person in the world, way above her years. She was tempestuous and she was known for violent outbursts when she was younger, but she was incredibly romantic and with a big heart. She was very loyal to her servants. She was such a multitude of things, so trying to play that inconsistency of her character and also be unapologetically flawed yet likeable has been interesting to navigate. It’s all really, really fun to play. I keep watching Judi Dench’s Mrs. Brown. That’s what Daisy said she thinks is the most accurate performance of the Victoria she has studied and read. It’s interesting to think, “Okay, that’s the Victoria in 40 years time. That’s where we’re headed.” That way, you can get the essence, but she’s a lot younger and she’s very vibrant. She’s been through a lot, but you can see where she’s headed to, in a way.
Did it ever get totally overwhelming playing someone like this, especially with all of the emotional ups and downs?
COLEMAN: Yeah. I always want more time. You want more time to shoot, but you have to just roll with the punches. You do as much prep as you can, and then you throw it all away, get on set, and see what happens and what the other actors bring ‘cause that changes everything. You get as prepared as you can be, but then you have to be willing to fuck it all up. Peter Capaldi probably taught me that the most. You just want to keep it alive, and hopefully, if you’ve prepped well enough, that’s there. It’s interesting because there’s such growth in this series. We really start at a place where she’s really, really young and really vulnerable and uncertain, and then we really see her grow into Queen and that role of command. You’ll see her fall in love and go through the coronation, and get pregnant and become a mother. The arc of the series is one of huge growth, and of becoming more and more Victoria, as we go on.
What was it like for you to go from fighting aliens to ruling a kingdom? Did it feel equally daunting?
COLEMAN: It’s just different ways of working. It’s interesting, working on the voice was something I felt a lot of pressure on, in particular. It’s trying to get the sense of someone who’s younger yet regal, and that doesn’t distance, but is really accessible. I thought Emily Blunt did an amazing job in Young Victoria. There wasn’t really a day on set that wasn’t huge. You’ve got these journals that she’s written in, that tell you how she felt on the day. It just felt like you could shoot it as a feature film, but we were shooting in for TV, and we just wanted to get the detail. There is so much detail and you move through it all so fast. There’s so much wealth in all of the moment and you want to capture that.
What was it like to put on the clothes and the contacts, be on these sets, and have people call you, “Your Majesty”?
COLEMAN: Alastair Bruce, who worked on Downton Abbey a lot, comes in and talks about protocol, and he was like, “Look, when you’re in a position like this, you never play the power. It’s just inherent that it’s there. It’s about the way people respond to you, rather than you trying to project a certain status.” I think that, if you have that status, you don’t need to. He was really useful. He said, “It’s the people around you that make you Queen by their reaction to you, but you’ve got nothing to prove.” She’s an inexperienced 18-year-old girl, going through everything that an 18-year-old girl goes through, at the same time that you’re navigating ruling and being the most powerful woman in the world. She was 4’11” and 18 years old, and so openly passionate. It’s fascinating.
Did you ever put yourself in her shoes and wonder if you could have stepped into a role like that, at 18 years old?
COLEMAN: Yeah, and the answer is resolutely no. Her mother told her that she had to sign a regency to give up her power until she turned 21, and she just said no. She was about to become the Queen of England and her mother was telling her to do this, and she said no. She was a force of nature, and she remained that way. People just see these images of her, but by all accounts, she loved to laugh. Her humor was so apparent. She was very sociable, she had a love of opera and music, and she used to paint all of the dramatic scenes of the opera. It really captured her imagination.
You were one of the longest running Companions on Doctor Who. What was that experience like for you? Do you feel like it really made you grow, as an actor?
COLEMAN: Yeah, it really did. It’s such a different way of working. It’s such a unique show and a unique beast, in itself. Every two weeks, it’s so different, and you’re playing an over-arching character. It’s the relationships with Matt [Smith] and Peter [Capaldi] that made that job everything that it is, and what they taught me, as actors. They’re so uniquely wonderful and really amazing friends. I think I was very lucky to have fallen into the hands of both of them, and we’re really good friends today
Victoria premieres on Masterpiece on PBS on January 15th.
Can you tell us a little bit about Shop Small and the role you play in helping small businesses?
I’m supporting Amex’s Shop Small campaign to encourage people to ‘shop small’ in the lead-up to Christmas in particular. And helping to shine a light on some my favourite independent shops.
Why do you think Small Business Saturday is such an important cause to support?
I think it’s important to encourage the creativity and individualism that small shops offer. I love to spend my Saturdays stumbling across a new independent store and finding an upcoming designer to offer something new for the home or for an individual gift. Also, the personal customer service, in your local coffee shop for example. I think variety and individualism is the key and one of things I adore so much about living in London.
How would you encourage people to support small businesses in their everyday lives?
It’s all about discovery, and finding those smaller, one-of-a-kind shops and taking enjoyment from it. It’s simple. I’ve really enjoyed sharing my tips and ‘finds’.
What was the first record you ever bought?
Cher, ‘The Shoop Shoop Song’ or Johnny Nash, ‘I Can See Clearly Now’.
What is your favourite film?
Hardest question ever, but I love classics like Bringing Up Baby, Betty Blue and Little White Lies. I am a big fan of Damien Chazelle too.
What do you have an irrational fear of?
Rollercoasters. Ironic after growing up in Blackpool.
What is your favourite childhood book?
Black Beauty strikes a chord. Alongside Enid Blyton’s The Wishing-Chair.
What is your signature dance move?
All about the hands. And a slight hip bob.
What surprises people about you?
That I am indeed of Scottish/English descent
Who was the first actress you were inspired by?
Maxine Peake at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, where I used to go on school trips.
What was a book that changed your life?
East of Eden, I remember reading the section about ‘Thou Mayest’ and finding it pretty profound wherever I was in my life at that point. Recently, I adored Donna Tartt’s Goldfinch, it felt very ‘big’.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
I was in Bali with a taxi driver and he was trying to explain his life philosophy through a language barrier and it came out as “making easy”. I love the simplicity of this. I also read a Ricky Gervais quote on Instagram today which was: “No one else knows that they’re doing either”, which gives me immense comfort.
What are you most proud of?
I am proud that all my girlfriends from school have maintained such close friendships for 16 years now, through school, university, moving to London, working in totally different fields, life moving in different directions and now entering our 30s together.
What are the skincare products you can’t live without?
Bioderma, Su-Man toner, Linda Meredith Q3, Sisley Black Rose mask, [which is] especially good for a flight.
What is your signature scent?
Acqua di Parma Ginepro Di Sardegna.
What is the best beauty tip you’ve ever been given?
Ice your face for two minutes after cleansing – the cheapest and most powerful trick. It also wakes you up.
How do you keep in shape?
I really believe in functional medicine and try to put a lot of vitamins into my body. I switch between yoga and jogging, As of recent, a bit of horse-riding too.
Who is your beauty icon?
Keira Knightley. I think she has such a Romantic grace about her.
For the latest in our WISE WORDS interview series – where stars from a whole range of fields share the important life lessons they’ve learned along the way – we’re posing some of the big questions to JENNA COLEMAN.
Following her roles in ‘Emmerdale’ and ‘Waterloo Road’, Jenna broke through as one of Doctor Who’s most popular ever companions Clara Oswald.
Since then, she’s taken the title role as the young Queen in the ITV drama ‘Victoria’. In her capacity as an ambassador for American Express Shop Small, she spoke to HuffPostUK about what she’s learned along the way, and why her family would never let her get away with any queenliness herself…
How do you switch off from the world?
I take a bath. Or I read. Or both at once. Sometimes I go for a long walk.
How do you deal with negativity that comes your way?
If it’s justified, I’ll have a think, I try to take it on board. Sometimes it takes a phone call to my mum to rationalise. She’ll tell me, ‘Chin up.’ I do try to learn something from it.
When and where are you at your happiest?
I love being on an aeroplane. It means I can switch off, but I also like the switching of environments. There’s something about being in the clouds.
I also like being around my school-friends in London. It brings me back to who I’ve always been. They’re very supportive of my work, but they don’t let me take myself too seriously.
What has been the best piece of advice you’ve received?
I was in Bali, and I was struggling to communicate with my taxi driver, we had a language barrier. But we ploughed on, and he was trying to explain some philosophy, and he came up with ‘Making easy.’ And I’ve always remembered it.
What has been the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn?
You can’t fix everything.
What would you tell your 13-year-old self?
Don’t worry so much; Have more faith in yourself and your instincts; Don’t try so hard to fit in.
What three things are at the top of your to-do list?
Learn the piano; Learn French; Get better at photography.
What do you think happens when we die?
After watching ‘Black Mirror’, I’d want to ask Charlie Brooker. I’d like we think we go to some special place, but maybe we just come back as grass.
When do you feel in the presence of something bigger than ourselves?
When we look at the Supermoon, or we’re anywhere where we look up and see the stars.
What quality do you most treasure in relationships?
Unconditional love, when you’re doing something for another person without expecting a reward.
What keeps you grounded?
Northern pragmatism and humour. I can just see my family’s face if I went home and tried to indulge in some queenliness a la Victoria. I wouldn’t last long.
What the most recent act of kindness you received?
I got into a cab, and I told the driver ‘I’m having such a bad day.’ And he thought I said ‘It’s my birthday’ so he proceeded to sing Happy Birthday to me, the whole song. I didn’t have the heart to stop him, and it actually cheered me up a lot.